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Lifelong memories on a Bushwise course

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Divan Mclachlan and Heindre Gericke, students on a Bushwise course, recall some of their favourite experiences so far – including learning about the night sky with astronomy expert Ben Coley. In this blog, we share their experiences, and their newfound appreciation for the night sky.

Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

Bushwise course participants walking across a rocky wall next to a body of water

Divan: I have been lucky to be part of a Bushwise course and to be with my fellow students for the past five months. I never would have thought that this campus would be so fun. This place will always have a special place in my heart. 

Every day is a busy day some will say, but I believe that if you’re passionate about something you will never work a day in your life. I love the bushveld that’s why I am here at Bushwise. The things I’ve seen on game drives many people will never see. I have seen epic sightings and all of the Big Five here at Bushwise.

Hiendre: There is nothing more special (and cold) than sitting on the back of a Cruiser on your way to the game reserve and not knowing what the bush holds for you today. One of my favourite weeks started out like any other, getting on the back of the Cruiser with my friend and singing “Tell me why” by the Backstreet Boys while we were driving to Makalali Game Reserve. After our quick karaoke session, we arrived at the main gate where we saw the two cheetahs who live in that area right at the gate. That’s when you just know it’s going to be a good week.

Divan: I have already done so much and my knowledge is growing everyday. Like they say, you learn something new every day – from the jokes on coffee stops to the focused game drives. I have also made friends that will stay with us forever in the field guiding industry. The trainers have always looked after us and pushed us to do our best.

I used to know just 20 birds. Now I know over 100, which is incredible and I am still learning. We go on game drives almost every day and we always see something different – from the tiniest little termites to the biggest elephants. It’s always nice to learn something new about even the tiniest creature. 

I also love sitting around the boma at the end of the day with a nice fire. Listening to stories and telling them just to have a little laugh are the moments I’ll always appreciate. 

Hiendre: One of the highlights so far was when Ben Coley visited our campus and gave an introduction to astronomy course.

Learning astronomy is part of a Bushwise course.

We learnt how ancient civilisations used the stars to find direction and to know when to harvest and plant crops. The constellation used to determine the best time to harvest crops was Libra because it would rise just before winter. 

We also learnt the amazing story of Canis Major and Canis Minor. Canis Major was Laelaps the dog who caught whatever it wanted, and Canis Minor was the Teumessian fox that could never be caught. Laelaps was sent to hunt down the Teumesiian fox, but Zeus realised that the hunt would continue for eternity. So he turned them into stone and placed them in the sky/ These are the constellations we see today. The irony is that they still continue the chase because Canis Minor rises an hour before Canis Major in the winter sky. 

We also learnt about the battle between Hercules and the Nemean Lion and how Hercules had to strangle it because it could not be harmed by any man-made weapon. After Hercules killed the lion, he took its skin and made a cloak because of its protective abilities. Leo was then placed in the sky as a reminder of Hercules’ heroism and bravery.

Bushwise students gaining important information from their trainers.

Divan: The astronomy course we did with Ben was so interesting. We  learnt all the wonderful stories of the 12 constellations and the zodiac signs, as well as some extras like the big and small hunting dogs of Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor. There is still so much that we still need to learn about space. Right now we think that Earth is the only planet with life on it, but there are so many  unexplored galaxies and a number of them might have planets with life on them. It’s incredible.

Hiendre: After Ben told us about the constellations in our skies, we looked at a few of them through his telescope. The one that surprised me the most was the Jewel Box constellation that is located next to  the Southern Cross. Seeing it through our eyes, it  looks like a mere blur of light. But when you look at it through a telescope, you can see an amazing number of stars.

I have had the best time here at Bushwise and can’t wait to see what the rest of the course holds for me and my friends.

A Bushwise course is about so much more than just studying. You're always learning and making friends!

Divan: I have enjoyed every moment on this Bushwise course. The staff are friendly and patient, and the trainers are top tier – I wouldn’t swap my trainers for anyone else, not even for a million bucks. I will make the most of my remaining time with Bushwise, knowing the memories will never fade. I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me.

Astronomy lessons, campfires, game drives and new friends – they’re all part of the Bushwise course experience. Apply today and join one of our upcoming courses.

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